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DLC WEEK OF 9/21: Friday Pilots Club and Sleep Token

Friday Pilots Club “IDWBS” and Sleep Token “The Summoning” are take-no-prisoners, intellectually robust bangers that get your fists pumping *and* your brain cranking to understand what exactly is going on! Pick up both this Thursday in the Rock Band Music Store!

Chicago-based rockers Friday Pilots Club came roaring back in 2022 with the I LOVE YOU, ROBOT SUPERSTAR EP, featuring the powerhouse track “IDWBS.” The cut manages to marry complex sonic and lyrical content to effectively convey and portray a search for identity amidst a sense of disconnect – it’s both unsettling and reassuring, in a very distinct way. Classically-trained Drew Polovick (bass, vocals) and primary vocalist Caleb Hiltunen lead the charge, with Eric Doar (drums), James Kourafas (guitar), and Sean Burke (guitar) along for the ride as more than capable co-conspirators. 

Kicking off with a relentless beat supporting Hiltunen’s opening verse and accompanying midrange-boosted, lo-fi guitar part, “IDWBS” blasts into high gear 25 seconds in with Doar’s drums, in particular, suddenly in full “surround sound” potency. Effective and clever use of low-pass filters and other effects keep the listener on his/her toes as things progress through to the first wallop of the undeniable chorus at :53. Immediate, hooky, and emotionally wrought, this is the type of refrain folks spend years in conservatory hoping to one day write, themselves. 

 The lyrics are simultaneously both heartbreaking and affirming. The struggle and search to “be seen” is called into question repeatedly. Seen… for what? And for how long? Attention is fleeting and, as a goal, more than a little hollow. "In an era of oversharing on the internet, where we are applauded and rewarded for airing out our most personal traumas; where careers are built on the backs of your personal willingness to let the world into your life; we are all taunted to become the robot superstar,” says Polovick. The music supports this theme, as the cut never really sticks to a single format. Sure, at its essence this is, in basic terms, “rock,” but there are elements of electronica, hip-hop, free-form, and plenty of other aesthetics swimming around amidst the swirling sonic free-for-all that Friday Pilots Club puts forth. 

While Polovick and Hiltunen are the founders and primary architects of the group’s sound, it’s clear this is a collaborative affair that draws from the rich skill-sets of all members. “It changes every single time,” observes Hiltunen. “Every member of this band brings original ideas. It is very much all five of us.” The collaborative musical muscle of Friday Pilots Club is on full display from the get-go on “IDWBS,” but perhaps looms largest during the middle section, beginning at 2:07. Claustrophobic soundscapes and furiously twisted, circular beats envelop the lead vocals until, at 2:32 – like a long-awaited exhale – we return to the mighty chorus. About 20 seconds later, we reach the outro and… is this now industrial? Techno? Metal? Answer: yes! These dudes are not messing around and genre be damned.

IDWBS, for those of you not up on your military and/or social media terminology, is an acronym that can mean both “Interim Defensive Weapon Ballistic System” and “Intellectual Dark Web Bull &*$%” – and both interpretations apply to this killer Friday Pilots Club composition: aggressive, on guard, aware of pretense and inherent dishonesty of self-presentation. If you’re just looking for some good-time, high-energy rock, “IDWBS” has that in spades; if introspection and “deep” thoughts are what you seek, these guys have got that base covered, as well.

Whatever your agenda, this is three minutes (fine, three minutes and two seconds) of pulse-pounding, head-scratching emotional bombast. Welcome to your new favorite track!

Released in early 2023 as a single, “The Summoning” combines all of Sleep Token’s many strengths, creating a brutally heavy, funky prog-metal masterpiece. While the term “djent” wasn’t coined expressly in anticipation of this band’s existence, it may as well have been. Syncopated rhythms and full-gain distorted guitar wizardry are on full display throughout this unhinged sonic assault.

This UK band – who have steadfastly remained anonymous since founding in 2016 (each member wears cloaks and masks, no names are given, hardly any interviews have been granted, nobody speaks in between songs in concerts) – forces the actual music to take center-stage. While such a device in the hands of a lesser group could be seen as hacky or contrived, in Sleep Token’s case, it’s a strategy that pays off in spades, as there’s a *lot* to digest, sonically. After a few seconds of atmospheric droning, at :09 “The Summoning” launches into high-gear like a speedster going from 0-60 in under five seconds. Punishing drums, de-tuned guitars, and a see-sawing, octave-switching bassline produce a careening, undulating sound that is simultaneously compelling and threatening. About 20 seconds in, singer “Vessel” (the only member granted any type of moniker) adds his impressive vocal chops to the picture and it’s quickly evident that this we’re dealing with an unusually gifted talent. Soulful and aggressive in equal measure, the melodies are pitch-perfect and the delivery impassioned. When we get to the first blast-beat breakdown a little more than a minute later, it’s revealed that this guy can not only legitimately sing, but has a blood-curdling scream like no other. Impressive stuff!

Guitar solo #1 shows up at the 2:04 mark and it’s an impressively lyrical, fluid display. The way Sleep Token can ping-pong from lethal aggression to breezy tranquility with casual ease is truly something to behold. We then reach what would have to be considered the chorus (I suppose?) and – again – it’s impressive how the group manages to be so many things at once: tuneful, imposing, deranged, and restrained. “Restrained”? Not when we get to 3:23, which is a brief shot of unforgiving percussive energy bolstered by barely-contained guitar-work and grumbling bass.

True to form, at 3:34,  Sleep Token unexpectedly screeches left and dials everything back, adding some synth pads and creating an island of calm amidst an otherwise unrelenting sea of metal swagger. This “break” lasts over a minute and a half before the song takes an unexpected detour into… what is this, ‘80s funk-inspired dance-rock? However you describe it, this next section is a surprise and – amazingly – it works! Hip-shaking control and command is suddenly the name of the game with groovy drums and satisfyingly indulgent wah-wah’d guitar and bass with dance-floor keyboard lines added for good measure. WHAT. IS. GOING. ON. HERE?!?!

Convention would have the listener understandably expecting this little sojourn to be just that: a brief deviation before Sleep Token brings back the metal onslaught with full intensity. “They’ll end this song with the heaviest of metal!” Nope! Wrong! Again, these folks subvert expectation and convention. We funk it out with the band until, at 6:33, “The Summoning” lurches to a satisfying, curious halt.

Compositions like this – and artists such as Sleep Token – don’t come around often. Don’t be caught sleeping on this one!

Friday Pilots Club “IDWBS” and Sleep Token “The Summoning” are each featured in the Season 33 Pass. Pick them up today and dive into the full season of DLC! Both can be yours for $1.99 each.

·  Friday Pilots Club – “IDWBS”

·  Sleep Token – “The Summoning”

VIDEO: Rock Band 4 DLC Week of 9/21: Friday Pilots Club “IDWBS” and Sleep Token “The Summoning”



*Please note that this week’s DLC tracks will be available for purchase on Thursday, September 21st.